KTM’s take the top four spots in Stage 5 as Toby Price, Antoine Meo, Stefan Svitko and Matthias Walkner enjoy good runs in the second half of the Dakar marathon stage.
Stage 5 of the 2016 Dakar Rally definitely took on a bit more of the look of recent past rallys, with Red Bull KTM rising to the fore and carding a 1-2 finish with Australia’s Toby Price and France’s Antione Meo in the second half of the marathon stage that ended in Uyuni, Bolivia, today.
Price excelled in a difficult stage, whose entry into Bolivia was punctuated by an abrupt increase in altitude, rising to 4600 meters. The end of the timed special also through some navigational challenges at the riders, but Price managed them well, finishing the 327-kilometer timed special stage in 4 hours, 3 minutes and 44 seconds to become the first rider to win two stages in the 2016 Dakar Rally. Better yet, he continues to make up the time that he lost in Stage 2 and is now within striking distance of leader Paulo Goncalves and runner-up Stefan Svitko, who finished 12th and third respectively in Stage 5.
“This marathon stage was definitely difficult,” Price said. “Today was a little bit tricky with the navigation. I had to stay on top of the game. I caught a couple of other guys and got in some dust. I made a couple of little errors in the end there, because I was a little too worried to take my eyes off the road. It was a pretty crazy track. All in all, we’re stoked. I didn’t expect to be that far ahead for the day. I caught a couple of guys, but I thought the other guys in front were on a good pace. We’re stoked. We’ve got another long day tomorrow and we’ll see how we do.”
Today’s stage from Jujuy, Argentina, to Uyuni in Bolivia, was almost deceptive, with its large, open roads allowing the riders to stay on hard on the gas for long stretches, only to find the last 30 kilometers to require careful navigation so as not to get lost and ruin the day’s work. Price said that he simply pushed when he could and played it cautious when he had to, and that calculation was the difference in his victory today.
“I know we’ve got the stage win, but I’m not too sure where we are overall, but we’re stoked and happy with everything,” Price said. “We’ve just got to keep pushing along and do what we can. Fingers crossed, but there’s still a long way to go. We can’t count on things just yet. Today is only day five. We’ve got another seven or so stages to go and it’s a long way. Anything can happen between now and then. We’ll just try and make the right calls when we have to and push when we need to, so we’ll see how we go. The bike is good. I didn’t crash or do any damage to the bike. It’s running really well. The guys have done a really good job. All is good, just the tyres were starting to get worn out at the end and it was hard to hang in there on those slippery roads, but it made it a bit of fun.”
Finishing just 2 minutes and 21 seconds behind Price today, five-time FIM World Enduro Champion Antoine Meo continues to impress in his Dakar debut, and it is conceivable that the cool, calm and collected Frenchman may not only be on the verge of winning stages in his rookie year, he may be a threat for the overall win down the stretch. However, Meo made it clear that he is just taking the event stage by stage.
“Of course, I pushed quite well and didn’t make any mistakes,” Meo said of his run today. “At the end, it was very tricky navigation, but I found the right way. I think I am a little lucky. So, in my experience, we need to see what happens on the next big stage to see what is going on.”
Team HRC had a fairly even day today, with Barreda being credited with fifth place after again incurring time penalties, while Goncalves rode conservatively and finished just outside the top 10, doing well enough to maintain his overall lead in the rally.
“It was a really difficult marathon day.” Goncalves said. “Yesterday was a big day and again today was a big day with higher altitude, so I’ve got a bit of a headache. In the end I’m happy because the bike was riding really well during these two marathon days. I think my time is also good. I finished without any problems, so this is good and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. Again, it will be a big day in front with more than 500 kilometers, so now we need a rest. “
Goncalves said that he found navigation in the timed special to be difficult, but he was happy to be able to stay on course.
“The marathon is obviously difficult, because yesterday and today is around 1700 kilometers in all, with 800 kilometers per stage. With the high altitude it’s difficult, and that’s where it can make the difference between a few riders. But I think the second week will be harder than this week.
Goncalves also noted that fellow Team HRC rider Joan Barreda continues to pile on penalty minutes for speeding in controlled zones. However, Goncalves clearly isn’t counting Barreda out when it comes to the battle for the overall win.
“Joan had bad luck because he was braking late at the limit, but these things happen,” Goncalves said. “He was unlucky, but I’m sure he will recover. I don’t think the penalties will have an effect because there are a lot of hours left in front of us to race and I think that five or six minutes at the moment is nothing.”
Team HRC’s Ricky Brabec finished 24th today and slipped back to 19th in the overall standings.
2016 Dakar Rally
Jujuy, Argentina-Uyuni, Bolivia (Marathon Stage)
Results: January 7, 2016 (stage 5 of 13)
1. Toby Price (AUS)-KTM/4 hours, 3 minutes, 44 seconds
2. Antoine Meo (FRA)-KTM/+00:02:21
3. Stefan Svitko (SVK)-KTM/+00:02:33
4. Matthias Walkner (AUT)-KTM/+00:02:40
5. Joan Barreda (ESP)-Hon/+00:05:57
6. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)-Hus/+00:06:51
7. Ivan Jakes (SVK)-KTM/+00:07:19
8. Helder Rodrigues (PRT)-Yam/+00:07:20
9. Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP_-She/+00:07:36
10. Alain Duclos (FRA)-She/+00:08:34
2016 Dakar Rally Overall Standing (after 5 of 13 stages)
1. Paulo Goncalves (PRT)-Hon/14 hours, 30 minutes, 7 seconds
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK)-KTM/+00:01:45
3. Toby Price (AUS)-KTM/+00:01:47
4. Joan Barreda (ESP)-Hon/+00:02:27 (6-minute time penalty)
5. Matthias Walkner (AUT)-KTM/+00:02:57
6. Kevin Benavides (ARG)-Hon/+00:06:46
7. Antoine Meo (FRA)-KTM/+00:06:49
8. Ruben Faria (PRT)-Hus/+00:08:13 (1-minute time penalty)
9. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)-Hus/+00:08:30 (1-minute time penalty)
10. Alain Duclos (FRA)-She/+00:13:39